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Jerry Nadler on the Beat. TRANSCRIPT: 1/15/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Jerry Nadler, Chris Murphy, Michelle Goldberg

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Our breaking coverage continues with my man Ari Melber with "THE BEAT."

Ari, it`s all yours.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Chuck, it`s been fascinating watching you and your panel on such a historic hour. It`s really something.

Thank you, as always.

And thank you at home for joining THE BEAT on what is clearly this historic night.

For all of the controversial and contested presidents in our rich American history, only two have ever faced the ultimate accusation the Constitution provides for the House confronting alleged high crimes in office.

Today, Congress handing off these articles of impeachment against the third president now to face this process, the House naming its impeachment managers, sending them to the Senate, where Trump will stand trial.

It was, by all accounts, a solemn procession, taking these articles formally from the House over to the Senate, Speaker Pelosi signing the official document today, which effectively, under our system of government, is the indictment of the president for the high crimes, and paving the way for what we now know will at least be, in its beginning, a swift trial.

Donald Trump and GOP Leader McConnell had talked up the idea of dismissing these charges outright. But we can report that was too much even for Republicans in the Senate. Now McConnell moving to instead just begin swiftly, immediately, swearing in the chief justice and Senate jurors starting tomorrow, teeing up opening arguments for next week, and then the later votes on evidence, witnesses and beyond.

So what do tonight`s developments mean? If you watch the news, if you follow this closely, someone may come up to you and say, well, you`re the person I know who watches the news in my group of friends. You have been falling all this. It seems like it`s really happening. The president`s really going on trial. What does it all mean?

Well, let me share with you, before we turn to some incredible guests we have booked tonight, a few quick thoughts.

First, and most fundamentally, this means the Constitution works in this country. It works even when politicians would rather it didn`t. It works even when politicians literally brag about attacking the rule of law, claiming they could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without consequences.

There are consequences.

Second, this shows facts still matter. Tonight marks this formal presentation of impeachment to the United States Senate. It`s coming, of course, from a Democratic House to the Republicans in the Senate. They control the Senate.

But it`s worth noting, even with that political backdrop -- and everyone knows Washington is a political town -- what you are seeing now, what`s happening right now in your government, it wasn`t caused by Donald Trump`s unpopularity among Democrats, which has barely budged in two years straight.

It wasn`t caused by any fact-free hopes about what Bob Mueller might find that he didn`t find, because, while he found in many crimes, Mueller, in his indictments, in his report, did not conclude there was a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, as we reported on this show throughout that probe.

And over that period, remember, Congress did not vote to impeach based on that antipathy towards Trump or things Mueller didn`t find.

No, it is the public facts of this exposed Ukraine plot, first suggested by a whistle-blower, then recounted by fact witnesses, fact witnesses, which included members of the Trump administration, and then fact-checked by the evidence and the documents that brought the Congress to take this severe action to move the country to this moment tonight.

And facts should matter in the Senate trial, where the Senate jurors are not the only audience, though they are obviously the decision-makers. The public will also now have a chance to fully evaluate both sides of this case.

And I`m about to say something that`s fairly obvious, but worth noting. This will be the first time everyone in America fully hears both sides tested.

And that`s because President Trump broke with the approach -- or call it the precedent, if you want -- of both Clinton and Nixon. They participated in the House hearings, as did Johnson`s team.

The president boycotted all of this. So, even if you are open-minded or supportive of the president, in a democracy, only now, with this Senate trial, will you be able to hear his side of the case in a government forum tested. That`s a good thing, regardless of what you might want the outcome to be.

And then, third, I think tonight means that Donald Trump will be judged in a trial setting. I think I can report that as a fact, right? It`s not the same as a typical courtroom. It`s very different in some ways, but let`s remember, courtrooms are the venues Donald Trump has run from throughout his life.

He is, numerically, the most litigious person to ever occupy the Oval Office. He is the person who settled more cases than any other person before becoming president. And settling means -- and you don`t need a lawyer or a lawyer anchor to tell you this -- settling means avoiding a trial.

Well, here`s the news for Donald Trump tonight, and it`s clearly sinking in at the White House. There`s no settling here. There`s no more running. Whatever the Senate does, this trial will be held, beginning with the swearing-in tomorrow.

And how will the senators assess the case?

Well, tonight, we are joined by one of those senators who will act as a juror. We will hear directly from them in our special coverage.

And then the bigger question, what`s the strategy of these newly named and impeachment managers? Well, tonight, on our special coverage on THE BEAT, we will be joined by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, who is literally about to try the case against Donald Trump.

So we have a lot planned for you on what is obviously a big news night.

To begin our coverage, we turn to "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg and Maya Wiley, a former civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, both individuals we have relied on throughout covering this story, when it was just a whistle-blower complaint, what`s going to happen, when it became a stampede in the House, to the hearings, to the vote, to now a trial.

Maya, what does it mean to you -- I mentioned some of the ideas, the facts matter, the Constitution works -- that this trial now begins?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, the critical thing about this trial is that the American people, to your point, will get to see how or whether we`re going to get all the facts.

So the Constitution works up to this point. And the question of witnesses is going to be central to whether or not the Constitution continues to work.

And I say that specifically because obstruction of justice -- Mueller probe -- but obstruction...

MELBER:  Obstruction of Congress in this case, sure.

WILEY:  Obstruction of Congress in this case is fundamental to whether or not there is a full and fair trial.

So, in other words, if Donald Trump gets to say and gets his lawyers in his defense to say and get Republicans who are senators to say, you don`t have enough evidence to make this impeachable, at the same time that they have refused to use their constitutional authority to ensure that they get that evidence, then what they have essentially said is, we no longer have a working impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution, because any president can just try to keep the facts away.

Now, I think, to your point, Lev Parnas and, of course, others who have participated and sharing information, and, of course, the Freedom of Information Act, which has brought more evidence forward, has made that very difficult.

And I think the importance of the fact that we still have both functioning people and functioning laws and people in agencies who are still complying with laws means we have seen more than I think Donald Trump wanted us to.

And that`s going to make it very tough for this not to be somewhat of a real trial.

MELBER:  Right, and a real trial that really presents this to the country.

As I sometimes remind viewers, Michelle, and those readers of "The New York Times," you were making the case in print and on this show and others that there was evidence to do this. That was not the position of the leadership of the party or Speaker Pelosi.

And so I`m really curious what you thought of the speaker today, of the team she`s assembled.

I want to briefly play just a little more from her striking the seriousness of this. Take a look.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  This is as serious as it gets for any of us. Only the vote to declare war would be something more serious than this.

We take it very seriously. It`s not personal. It`s not political. It`s not partisan. It`s patriotic.


MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  I mean, I think that the gravity of this, the ceremonies today make the gravity of it very manifest.

And one of the things Donald Trump has wanted to do up until now is just pretend it`s not happening, insist it`s not happening, insist it`s not real. And, today, it is very real.

But I don`t necessarily share all your optimism. I think, like Maya, I think it`s still an open question about whether or not the Constitution works in this case, because it is true that Donald Trump is going to be put on trial. It`s not true that he`s going to have a fair or transparent trial, right?

That`s what`s at stake right now. There are so many outstanding facts. I mean, the basic story has been substantiated over and over -- over and over again. We got even more evidence just the other day with this release of the Lev Parnas docs, this letter from Rudy Giuliani basically saying to Zelensky, I am representing the president of the United States in his personal capacity and at his direction. I am contacting you, right?

I mean, it`s black and white.

MELBER:  Right.

And to your point on the Senate trial, one of the defenses was, either people did this without Trump really wanting, are you in or out of the loop, or, well, yes, you did it for Trump as president on the public interest arguments of the United States.

As you mentioned, that new letter shreds both of those.

GOLDBERG:  Right, as does a lot of this other information that basically shows that they had kind of thugs stalking our ambassador in Ukraine.

I mean, there`s just kind of -- part of the problem with this administration is that there`s a shocking revelation, and then there`s so much other noise that everybody sort of acculturates themselves to it, and it becomes normal, until the next shocking revelation.

I mean, I have compared the American public and especially the American news media to kind of drug addicts who are numb, unless you up the dose, because there`s just such an overabundance of scandal and criminality.

MELBER:  Are you suggesting the Senate trial is some kind of speedball?

GOLDBERG:  I think that we can only hope that the Senate trial, that they will not just pretend that all of this behavior is just kind of business as usual, as the kind of baseline misbehavior that we have come to expect from this president.

I mean, I think what we what we can hope is that there are still senators in this country, including the Republican Party, who are still capable of feeling something about the rules that govern our institutions.

But I don`t think we know what the answer to that is yet.

MELBER:  Well, that brings us to another piece of reporting we want to present and then get both of your reaction.

As I have told viewers, we have several things tonight, including, in moments, one of the House impeachment managers joining us.

But because so much is happening, and this is one of those historic nights, here at THE BEAT, we have prepared a few more things. I want to go through this right now, so you know exactly what was going on today. Perhaps you were busy, perhaps you were working.

But Speaker Pelosi goes in and introduces first these seven House managers, first time we have ever learned this, who will try the case against Trump, and describing it this way:


PELOSI:  The emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom. The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people.


MELBER:  Then she led her team to the final House debate on impeachment on the floor. Members prepared to vote on those managers.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  President Trump put his own personal interests above the national interests.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  This was always an exercise in raw partisan politics.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):  This trial is necessary because President Trump gravely abused the power of his office.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA):  The true motivation, I believe, of the other side is their dislike for this president.


MELBER:  The speaker also used this solemn day, a day that was clearly a close-up both on her and the Congress, to respond directly to not only some of the general criticism she`s got, but specifically something that has been basically one of the largest questions between the House and the Senate.

Mitch McConnell at times seemed frustrated about it, how she took over the timing of something that is, of course, in the end a Senate prerogative, to hold the trial.

Here she was responding to the criticism.


PELOSI:  Don`t talk to me about my timing.

For a long time, I resisted the calls from across the country for impeachment of the president. But when he acted the way he did, in relationship to withholding funds from Ukraine, in return for a benefit to him that was personal and political, he crossed a threshold. He gave us no choice.


MELBER:  No choice. And 228 members of Congress felt today, as she put it, no choice, 193 voting against, with only one Democrat in that rank.

And, late today, Pelosi also completed this ceremonial process. This is what Chuck Todd and I were just discussing, signing the resolution, naming the managers, sending it to Capitol Hill, introducing who will actually present the case.

And this is unlike anything else in our legal system. Unlike a normal or traditional trial, when an acquittal is supposed to be the final word, the slate wiped clean, you have the speaker arguing that, no matter what, the House has spoken, the president has been impeached, and regardless of what the Senate does, she argues it`s a timeless mark on the presidency of Donald Trump.


PELOSI:  He will be held accountable. He has been held accountable. He has been impeached. He`s been impeached forever. They can never erase that.


MELBER:  Maya, your view watching all this unfold right now?

WILEY:  So I think Nancy Pelosi, when she said, don`t talk to me about time, was absolutely right, because when you`re in the context that she was in, that all the House Democrats were in, that the American people were in, where you have elected officials saying, I`m going to hear no evil and I`m going to see no evil, no matter what you try to put in front of me, then what they did with time is allow other people to come forward with what they saw and what they have heard, in addition to what we already have seen.

I mean, I agree absolutely with Michelle. And this reinforces Nancy Pelosi`s point. Donald Trump impeached himself. And he impeached himself because, after Robert Mueller had an explosive report that gave him a road map to what not to do to get in trouble again, he then the very next day after Robert Mueller`s testimony goes and double -- doubles down, and then publicly says, here it is, it`s perfect.

I mean, the arrogance of that level of, I`m not even going to pay any attention to what I have just taken the country through in the context of this Mueller probe, and I`m going to admit it, and then I`m going to call on China to do it.

And the Lev Parnas documents, I think, are so important, because the truth is, we did already know what they confirmed, because Rudy Giuliani on May 9 said he was acting as the president`s personal lawyer in trying to get the dirt on Biden, and he was unapologetic about it.

And, yes, it is more powerful to see it in writing. And it is an important document.


WILEY:  But it`s an important document because it makes it harder for those who refuse to see and hear evil to see it and hear it.

MELBER:  Right.

Michelle, briefly, what`s the most important question you see or challenge facing the House impeachment managers?

GOLDBERG:  I think the most important question is whether they`re going to be able to persuade Republicans or the role that the chief justice is going to play in getting witnesses, right?

Are we going to hear from John Bolton, number one, who has already said that he`s willing to testify? It`s not clear whether -- how a claim of executive privilege by the president will play out in the context of this case, whether we will hear from Mick Mulvaney, whether, depending on what Lev Parnas has to say tonight, and what`s in a brand-new tranche of documents that`s been released just now, whether or not we hear from him.

I mean, I think it`s extraordinarily important that we find out at some point in this process who, if anyone, was paying for this congressional candidate who -- with a stalking restraining order against him, who`s in Ukraine stalking and surveilling our ambassador, right?

MELBER:  Right.


GOLDBERG:  So, there`s just like a lot of outstanding factual questions that are eminently answerable, that it`s just a matter of whether or not, politically, they`re able to get Republicans to allow them to elicit that information.

MELBER:  And that goes both to the trial and to the House`s oversight powers, which continue.

Michelle Goldberg and Maya Wiley, thanks to both of you.

Up ahead, we have had Speaker Pelosi reporting this big news that she`s got seven managers to prosecute Trump. Well, one of them in the lead joins us here live, Judiciary Chairman and a House manager Jerry Nadler on THE BEAT next.

Later tonight, I have a special report that we have been researching, going through the archives to break down the inflection points of what will happen in this trial.

Also, this explosive new evidence we were just discussing revealed from the indicted Giuliani associated, a special guest, a Senate juror, on how all that could play into the trial.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching a special edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER:  The House managers we just saw hand off articles of impeachment were announced for the first time today by Speaker Pelosi, Seven Democrats who will become clearly the face of the party before the entire nation, including Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler, who joins me now, as he prepares to try the case against President Trump.

First, thank you for joining us on this historic news night.

NADLER:  You`re quite welcome.

MELBER:  What is the case you will present to the Senate?

NADLER:  Well, the case we will present to the Senate is essentially the same case that that`s considered.

There is overwhelmingly -- overwhelming evidence that the president betrayed his country and misused the powers of his office in order to extort a foreign government, Ukraine, into trying to investigate a political opponent, to announce the investigation, and did so -- which is for his personal benefit -- and did so by withholding $391 million in military aid that the United States had voted -- that the Congress had voted for Ukraine.

The evidence is also overwhelming that, in trying to stop the investigation, he stonewalled Congress and refused every request for information and for -- defied every subpoena, in an unprecedented step in our national history.

That denies congressional power and the power of the American people through Congress to act at all. But he betrayed the country. He betrayed the country by using his -- misusing his power to get a foreign government, the Ukraine, to announce an investigation of Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.

And that is about as bad a violation of the Constitution, a misuse of presidential power, as has ever existed in our history.

MELBER:  And, Congressman, you`re now formally a manager presenting this case.

Your team, the Democratic Caucus here from the House, released some of this new evidence that`s been obtained, including a letter from Mr. Giuliani asserting in writing that he was acting on the personal capacity on behalf of the president -- quote -- "personal counsel to Trump, with his knowledge and consent."

Is this evidence you intend to use at the trial? And what does it show?

NADLER:  Well, certainly, this is just additional evidence for what is a -- already an overwhelming and undeniable case against the president.

The real question is not the abundance of evidence. Any jury would convict in three minutes flat. The real question is whether the Senate, under Republican leadership, whether the Republicans in the Senate, whether they will betray their oaths by refusing to allow a fair trial.

The American people know, anybody knows that you can`t have a trial without witnesses and evidence being introduced.

And Senator McConnell and others are saying they don`t want witnesses. They`re saying that they want the Senate trial, which is mandated by the Constitution, to be a cover-up, not a trial.

So, the Senate is on trial, as well as the president here.


NADLER:  Will they conduct a decent trial, or will they conduct a cover-up?

MELBER:  Well, when you say that, you sound like the assertive prosecutor that is the role you`re in, but you also sound like you`re putting heat on the senators.

Walk us through your strategy. Is there a risk that might backfire? Is there any plan in what you and your six colleagues are going to do to appeal especially to potentially the swing votes, as you see them, on this Senate jury?

NADLER:  Well, we will present the facts. That`s our job as House managers.

Our Senate colleagues to have to try to persuade -- I mean, we will use logic and we will use facts. Our Senate colleagues have to try to persuade their colleagues to do their jobs and not to betray their constitutional oaths.

These senators have to take an oath, a specialist oath prescribed by the Constitution, to do impartial justice. To deny a trial at all, and nothing -- and a trial with -- a so-called trial without witnesses, without documents, is not trial.

Anybody knows that, if someone is accused of robbing a bank, and you say you can`t introduce witnesses who saw the bank robbers, because somehow that`s wrong, that`s not a trial.

MELBER:  And so, when you talk about witnesses, which, of course, everyone now understands is such a key issue -- you just walked us through it -- do you have a strategy?

Would you prefer the Senate to vote on each witness one at a time or a package of witnesses? What is your trial strategy there?

NADLER:  Well, the normal -- the normal procedure is that the prosecutors, in this case, the House managers, call a witness.

They shouldn`t have to vote on each witness. They shouldn`t have to vote on whether there should be witnesses. It`s only because the Senate Republicans do not want witnesses, and which would be unprecedented in the history of impeachments and unprecedented in history of trials, that this is a question at all.

MELBER:  That`s certainly true.

Sometimes, we do fact-checks here. I will just say, fact-check, true, because we have looked at every impeachment trial in the United States Senate. They have all involved witnesses, many of them, as you mentioned, many witnesses.

You have talked about the Senate jurors. You have talked about the facts. You haven`t yet talked about the unique situation or unusual situation of you presenting with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding over the Senate.

Do you have any particular appeal to him? You mentioned that, if it were in ordinary course, you could just, as a prosecutor, submit evidence, and, in normal course, the presiding officer could simply accept it.

Is your hope that he does that, that he leans in?

NADLER:  Well, we certainly hope and trust that he would.

But the Senate can overrule a ruling of the chief justice by majority vote. And that`s what the -- in effect, they`re threatening to do.

And, also, there is a possibility that chief justice will simply defer to the Senate and not make any rulings.

MELBER:  Right.

NADLER:  Now, normally, in a court, a judge makes the ruling.

Here, the Senate makes the ruling. And we hope it will be a fair ruling. And that`s why I say the Senate is on trial. If they refuse evidence, if they refuse witnesses, then they`re -- then it`s a sham and a cover-up.

MELBER:  Strong, strong language.

I`m curious about...

NADLER:  But obvious.


I`m curious about the idea that`s been floated about maybe swapping some witnesses for others. You spoke to this today very clearly and made the point that, in any traditional setting, you don`t swap relevant witnesses for irrelevant witnesses, that that sort of doesn`t...

NADLER:  That`s right.

MELBER:  ... match the truth-seeking function.

I think a lot of folks who`ve been around either trials or "Law & Order" know what you mean.

But this is also political horse-trading. As an impeachment manager, I have to put the question to you. Are you open in any way to a deal or a trade if the senators say, we will get some of the witnesses that you`re currently advocating for, Bolton and others, in exchange for what you have already deemed potentially irrelevant witnesses, say, Mr. Biden`s son or others?

NADLER:  Well, it`s not up to the House managers. That`s up to the Senate.

And I would certainly hope the Senate would not try to bring in irrelevant witnesses. As I said today in the statement that you`re referring to, if someone is accused of a bank robbery, and it`s relevant witnesses -- to call people who say he did or didn`t rob the bank.

It is not relevant to say that an employee of the bank embezzled money from the bank, which may or may not be true, but it has nothing to do with the charges of the bank robbery.

MELBER:  Irrelevant, right.

Well, let me press you, sir, because...

NADLER:  And the same thing is true here.

MELBER:  ... you`re stating a fact, which is the Senate ultimately has the vote.

But you`re deciding the strategy with the speaker and your colleagues. And so my to you question is, if we start to hear Senate Democrats talking about that kind of "deal" -- quote, unquote -- are you against that? Is that a bad idea?

NADLER:  That`s up to the Senate. That`s up to the Senate Democrats.

And they will have to judge that. And I suppose we have to leave that judgment to them, given whatever is happening at that point in the proceeding.

MELBER:  And are you working every day, weekends, nights, plenty of coffee? What`s the schedule, sir?

NADLER:  Well, the schedule is, there is going to a beginning of the trial tomorrow, in the sense of the chief justice being sworn in.

And they may do some motions. The real trial, apparently, will start on Tuesday.

MELBER:  Congressman Nadler, we, like many, will be watching the arguments you present.

I know that you have a lot going on. I really appreciate you both making the time and rejoining us here again back on THE BEAT tonight, sir. I really appreciate it.

NADLER:  Well, thank you.

MELBER:  Thank you, sir.

What we`re going to do is fit in our shortest break, just 30 seconds, and then my breakdown of what to watch for in this trial, when we`re back in 30.



CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST, U.S. SUPREME COURT:  Do you solemnly swear that, in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice, according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?


MELBER:  That is the exact same oath that will be administered again this week, as President Trump goes on trial.

Now that these House managers presented the articles, tomorrow, as we were just discussing, the Senate swears in the chief justice and these Senate jurors.

And the sergeant at arms, which is effectively the Senate`s police chief, sets the tone.


JAMES ZIGLAR, SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS:  Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, all persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against William Jefferson Clinton, president of the United States.


MELBER:  And then what happens?

Well, that`s our special report right now.

Consider this something of a citizen`s pamphlet and a viewer guide, because, starting tomorrow, the Senate will actually stop functioning as a legislative body. It will become a partial courtroom, at least for part of the day, every day, until this trial ends.

And that means the majority leader will have less control over part of what happens. It also means individual senators will have more ways to press for their votes.

Now, the more you know about this process and these rules, which are admittedly arcane, the more you will come to realize the process and the outcome of Trump`s trial, it`s really not set in stone.

So, in fact, if you hear people predicting precise outcomes in this, that could be a sign they actually don`t know a ton about these rules, because what the rules provide is a road map. We can`t say what will happen, but we can actually see some historical guidelines here to the key inflection points which will shape parts of this trial.

First, once everyone is sworn in, there`s an opening for the wrangling over the trial rules. The Senate can use its standing rules for past impeachments. There`s 26 of them. We have been studying them. It can also change them, or it can hold probably contentious votes about changing them.

Indeed, that wrangling already began this year. And it began early, because Speaker Pelosi famously holding back the articles. Why? Well, her request was all about trying to make Senator McConnell publish the plan for the rules in advance to test if they were fair.

Well, that didn`t happen. But we do have the 26 standing rules. And this trial can start with debates over using them or tweaking them. Just about anything goes that can get 51 votes and doesn`t violate at least some fundamentals from the Constitution.

Another inflection point I can tell you what, early on in the trial, any senator can try to end it, demanding a vote to dismiss the articles immediately.

In fact, running from his judgment day, we should note Donald Trump has begun basically begging for that, where else, on Twitter.

And in the last impeachment, after every witness had already testified previously, some senators pushed for a similar vote to protect Bill Clinton. It was right after opening arguments. And it lost.

Now, after that jousting, this trial will move to opening arguments, if it continues. That`s a battle between House impeachment managers, who may be quite familiar faces, people like Schiff and Nadler, who you see on your television, and then some very new faces, the president`s lawyers.

For both Presidents Clinton and Trump, those lawyers didn`t play any big public role, until they were thrust into the public role of the Senate trial.

America is about to meet lawyers from Trump`s White House Counsel`s Office, just as it met Clinton`s lawyers, like deputy counsel Cheryl Mills.


CHERYL MILLS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  You can misrepresent the facts. You can hide the facts. But the truthful facts are stubborn. They won`t go away.

They show that this was not obstruction of justice.


MELBER:  While some of the Republican Party`s top leaders made their case, as they were House managers, in those -- also those opening arguments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You are now stewards of the oath.

Its significance in public service and our cherished system of justice will never be the same after this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is truly sad when the leader of the greatest nation in the world gets caught up in a series of events where one appropriate and criminal act leads to another and another and another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The wheels of obstruction started rolling, and they did not stop until the president successfully blocked the truth from coming out.


MELBER:  That`s what the arguments on the floor will look like, with a new cast.

The Trump trial, though, has come so fast, the Trump White House has not even finalized its cast, its entire legal team.

We do know White House counsel Cipollone will lead. And, again, it`s notable this will be the first time that a Trump advocate will enter any government forum to defend the president against impeachment and to have their arguments tested.

There are still reports Rudy Giuliani is lobbying to get a speaking role. The one thing we know for certain, senators do not get a speaking role. All 100 are required to be present for the whole trial, which the Senate reiterated in written guidance today, even all of those currently running for president.

But they can only engage in the bulk of the trial by submitting their ideas through questions in writing for the chief justice, who will be sworn in tomorrow.

You can think of this as kind of the texting rule. During the trial, the senators will have a little more in common with their grandchildren. They have to type out any ideas by text, instead of saying them out loud.

Now, William Rehnquist was the one taking in those questions last time. Now it will be Roberts, who is sworn in tomorrow at noon.

And then we know there will be some of the fiercest arguments over whether to call witnesses and who.

Now, this is pretty interesting and, for many, maybe a little rich. Take a look at House Republicans fighting for the idea that even the witnesses who`d already testified in the Clinton probe should be re-interviewed in the Senate trial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In every impeachment case, the Senate has heard from live witnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Unless and until the president has the opportunity to confront and cross-examine witnesses like Ms. Lewinsky, there cannot be any doubt of his guilt on the facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Give us the opportunity to president this witness, so that you, as jurors, could fairly and honestly determine her credibility.


MELBER:  The Senate ultimately voting to allow extra witness testimony, the so-called re-interviews. They were depositions and then shown in part on video.

McConnell and Trump are fighting witnesses, but there are several other Republican senators who have now already publicly said they may join Democrats on this inflection point, the vote over calling witnesses.

This week, you have those newly released documents from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, which many say add to the argument to have real-life witnesses speak to what those things mean.

And then, with or without witnesses, eventually, the trial gets to the dramatic scenes everyone recognizes from "Law & Order," the closing arguments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is only one question before you, albeit a difficult one. Would it put at risk the liberties of the people to retain the president in office?

Putting aside partisan animus, if you can honestly say that it would not, that those liberties are safe in his hands, then you must vote to acquit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For the sake of our country and for future generations, please find the president guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice when you cast your votes.


MELBER:  And on "Law & Order" or any typical jury, after you hear those arguments, everyone knows the jury goes off and deliberates in private.

But this is interesting. That is another potential inflection point in this trial starting next week, because this Senate jury can actually decide for itself whether to deliberate in private or in public.

That`s a high-stakes question that`s pretty hard to predict. Might some wavering senators be more critical if they could just get real, talk to each other in private, no cameras, or might public pressure be more effective if senators have to stand up and face the nation and obviously their voters on what they`re doing.

I don`t know the answers. I just think it`s a really interesting question.

And with this president, might he actually press for Republicans to deliberate in public to close this thing out by defending him on live television in this trial of the decade as he heads into his reelection campaign?

Well, this can be a vote too. Now, because it`s considered a change to the underlying rules, it would require not the 51 we have been talking about, but -- remember this in your viewer guide -- it would require a supermajority.

In fact, in the Clinton case, there was a majority backing the unusual idea of a public jury deliberation, with all of the complications I just mentioned, 59 senators backing it, but it wasn`t enough for the supermajority required.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Both sides have made their case, and now the Senate takes its debate on the evidence against the president behind closed doors.

And as NBC`s Gwen Ifill reports, despite today`s vote, that`s exactly where the deliberations are expected to stay.


MELBER:  Senators deliberating privately for two days, and then February 12, 1999, the U.S. Senate made its decision.

It found President Clinton not guilty on both articles of impeachment that he faced.


REHNQUIST:  Two-thirds of the of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said William Jefferson Clinton be, and he hereby is, acquitted of the charges in the said articles.


MELBER:  That`s what it looked like the last time a president faced this rarity, a trial while in office.

It`s not a drill. It`s certainly not a hoax. It is a very big deal, which may be why this president has gone from pretending and bluffing that he didn`t care about it, to pretending and bluffing that he welcomes witnesses, to now begging on Twitter that he wants it all to go away, please dismiss it., and even the Republicans saying no to that.

So how do senators do this? What will they do? What are the senators waiting for to hear in this very trial?

Well, when we come back, we go inside the impending Senate trial with a key vote who will be in this.

Also, we have new, airing for the first time, some of Rachel Maddow`s new exclusive interview with Lev Parnas, the Giuliani associate mixed up in this impeachment probe.

Stay with us.


MELBER:  Welcome back.

And welcome to U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who will be one of the Senate jurors in this trial.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT):  Thanks for having me.

MELBER:  We have a lot to get to.

But I want to begin with something brand-new airing for the first time on MSNBC.

Lev Parnas, the Giuliani associate who`s been indicted and cooperated with House impeachment investigators, who is the source of some that new information we keep hearing about, here he is speaking to Rachel Maddow, airing for the first time, for your benefit, Senator, and for our viewers.

Take a look.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW":  What do you think is the main inaccuracy or the main lie that`s being told that you feel like you can correct?

LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE:  That the president didn`t know what was going on. President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements.

He -- I wouldn`t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.

MADDOW:  In terms of the president and what he has said about you, he said about you and Mr. Fruman, Igor Fruman: "I don`t know those gentlemen. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do."

You`re saying that was not a true statement from the president?

PARNAS:  He lied.


MELBER:  Senator, your response?

MURPHY:  Well, we have known for a long time that the president was at the center of this corruption scheme.

All of the testimony from people like Gordon Sondland or disclosed e-mails from OMB officials make it very clear that the president was involved at an intimate level in directing his surrogates to try to bring Ukraine into his campaign operation, and then to hold money as a ransom to try to get that done.

So, I think this is just more confirmation that the president indeed was involved in directing all of this.

And so I don`t know anything about Lev Parnas` credibility as a witness, but the fact that he`s been able to provide documentation that seems to support the -- what he said in the interview tonight is just, I think, further evidence that this is not about some rogue elements inside the State Department or the White House.

This is about an operation to corrupt American foreign policy directed by the president of the United States.

MELBER:  I will put the question to you that I put to impeachment manager Nadler earlier, which is, how do you think the Senate should approach witnesses?

Should it be voting on one at a time or a package? Are you open to any deal in the horse-trading context that we have heard about?

MURPHY:  I am.

I`m certainly open to compromise. I mean, I would like to see a fulsome document request asking the White House to produce the e-mails that they would not give the House. I obviously think it`s an imperative now to have people like John Bolton come before the Senate and provide testimony, given that they are willing.

But I`m not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

MELBER:  Sure.

MURPHY:  I understand, in the end, you have to get a compromise.

And so I would be willing to have some limitation on document requests and witness testimony.

MELBER:  And then let me ask you, while I have you.

We were just talking about the big calls coming up. Do you have a view on whether the ultimate deliberations in the Senate should be open or closed?

MURPHY:  I mean, I`d have to think hard about what good could come from a public deliberation. That doesn`t sound like a deliberation to me.

That sounds just like a bunch of speeches being given by folks on both sides of the aisle.

Deliberations, to me, are probably most impactful when they`re done privately amongst colleagues. That why we don`t -- do jury deliberations behind closed doors.


MELBER:  Sure.

So, on that point, do you say that because you believe there are Republicans who would be more open or critical of the president in private?

MURPHY:  I do.

Of course, for the last three years, Republicans have been very willing to criticize the president privately to people like me and others, but they don`t do so publicly.

And so I just think that the debate might be more impactful in private, although I`d have to give it some more thought.

MELBER:  I appreciate your candor, and also thinking out loud with us a little bit on a very big news night.

And I know you`re about to be very busy.

Senator Chris Murphy, thank you so much for your time, sir.

MURPHY:  Thanks.

MELBER:  When we come back, we have more context on Rachel Maddow scoring this very newsworthy, interesting interview with indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.

And we`re going to show you some of it when we come back.


MELBER: We have been reporting on a lot of different aspects of the breaking news, with the Senate trial about to start tomorrow.

And now there`s this brand-new interview. And we have got some sound from it, as mentioned just before the break, Lev Parnas speaking out for the first time here, breaking his silence, to MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow.

Take a listen to this key part.


MADDOW:  What do you think is the main inaccuracy or the main lie that`s being told that you feel like you can correct?

PARNAS:  That the president didn`t know what was going on. President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements.

He -- I wouldn`t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.

MADDOW:  In terms of the president and what he has said about you, he said about you and Mr. Fruman, Igor Fruman: "I don`t know those gentlemen. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do."

You`re saying that was not a true statement from the president?

PARNAS:  He lied.


MELBER:  Keep in mind, Mr. Parnas, facing indictment in the Southern District, was a close associate of Rudy Giuliani, paid him money.

Here, he`s accusing the president of being aware of the entire scheme. It also echoes what Gordon Sondland, another Trump aide who still works for the administration, testified under oath to Congress, that the idea of a shadow foreign policy or people going off the books, that defense, which we might also hear about in this trial, that that isn`t true, and everyone was in the loop.

And then you also have, at the very end there, Mr. Parnas saying bluntly that Donald Trump was lying to cover it up.

Now , that may sound to some people like icing on a cake that`s already been baked, but this is not just anyone adding views or observations. This is someone who`s already produced receipts, cooperated and provided materials further exposing Rudy Giuliani.

Again, that`s obviously just a small portion that has been released in advance.

The entire interview airs tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern on "The Rachel Maddow Show" right here, of course, on MSNBC, well worth a watch.

Now, what will happen precisely tomorrow, as the Senate takes over this process?

We have that breakdown when we come back next.


MELBER:  The Senate will move to formally begin Donald Trump`s trial at noon Eastern tomorrow.

House managers will come to the chamber, read the articles of impeachment at 2:00 p.m. Chief Justice John Roberts will be formally sworn in. He will then swear in the jurors.

We will have it all covered for you tomorrow.

That does it for THE BEAT tonight.

"HARDBALL" starts now.